DETROIT (WWJ) There’s an eerie twist to Halloween in Detroit. Harry Houdini, known as the world’s greatest escape artist, died in the city 90 years ago today.
Houdini expert Jon Cox says Houdini performed at the Garrick Theater with a fever of 104 degrees. Afterward, the 52-year-old was hospitalized at Grace Hospital in Detroit.
“It was discovered that he had appendicitis,” said Houdini expert John Cox. “They operated but peritonitis had set in, that’s when your appendix ruptures and that was pretty much a death sentence back then.”
We’re also near another anniversary: Cox says Houdini’s most epic stunt was jumping off the Belle Isle Bridge handcuffed and with legs bound, into the Detroit River in November 1906.
“He’s ever bit as popular today as he was 90 years ago,” Cox said. “When he died, he might be even more popular. I think it’s because his feats are still amazing, they still impress.”
Conspiracy theorists have forwarded various notions about Houdini’s demise, including poisoning … or was it a punch to the stomach?
He was allegedly reclining on a couch in his dressing room when a student approached and asked Houdini “if he believed in the miracles of the Bible” and “whether it was true that punches in the stomach did not hurt him.” Per Wikipedia, the student then delivered “some very hammer-like blows below the belt.”
“It is not entirely clear what relationship the encounter in the dressing room had on Houdini’s eventual death. As Snopes points out, the relationship between blunt trauma and appendicitis is not clear. One theory suggests that Houdini was unaware that he was suffering from appendicitis. If he had not realized that his stomach pains were symptomatic of appendicitis, he would not have appreciated the potentially critical effect of the blows to his abdomen.”